Some of the best places to train to be an awesome photographer are at events. They offer so many different kinds of picture opportunities that it’s a little overwhelming. If you’re new to the event photography game it can create some additional stress since it will be your first time trying to get the shot. Keep your head on straight, believe in your ability to create a great image, and in the end you will. It also doesn’t hurt to read a few event photography tips and techniques before heading out into the field.
Your camera is your VIP pass:
Just by having my camera hanging around my neck I’ve gotten into places countless times without even being asked if I had a pass or anything. I saw that I needed to get into the VIP area to get the shot I wanted so I walked right in. This wasn’t even for a paid job, I just happened to be walking by an event where I thought I could get some interesting pictures and did my thing. To pull this off you’ll also need some confidence. If you ask, look scared, or second guess yourself, many times the bouncer or ticket person will notice and quickly remove you or not let you in.
Do your research:
If you already know of the event that you’ll be taking pictures of, do a little bit of research. What time of the day will you be shooting? Do you need a zoom lens or a wide angle to get the best shots? Will people be moving quickly? Inside or outside? Is there an after party?
You can even try visiting the area on another day to physically see everything without a bunch of people blocking your view. Put simply, be prepared =). For this wedding shoot I did I made sure to show up early to get a scope of the place. I walked onto the beach and everything was empty which allowed me to take the shot below.
Find the angles:
During events there will be people, advertisements, other photographers, and security that you don’t want in your shot. Sometimes these distractions can actually create an amazing picture but that’s not always the case. So find something to climb on, pick your camera up above your head for a slightly higher perspective and even get low, down to foot level, for something completely different. Below, you can see the how I used the crowd to my advantage to make the people be the contrast of the photo.
Get into the action:
To get the shot you gotta be in the action! This doesn’t always apply and it also depends on what lens you’re using but it never hurts to get up close and personal. You’ll get more movement in your shots as well as a spectator’s view (with your “photographic eye” twist).
Go with the flow:
Every event has a different flow to it. If you’re taking pictures at Carnival you’ll need to put your running shoes on and scurry from one place to the next. If you’re photographing a press event you’ll need to stealthily move about the room, grab your shot and get out of the way. If you’re at a water sports competition, you’ll want to combine action shots with spectator shots. In the end, whatever you’re shooting, you’ll want to vary it up to get all angles of the event, if you stay in the same place you’ll miss an incredible amount of photo opportunities.
Don’t be afraid to ask:
Sometimes you see something epic happen and you were just one second to late for the shot. There are certain events, like carnival, where you can just go up to the person and ask them to do what they just did again. Some will be happier than others to do so but in general they will pose, jump, dance, back flip, etc… for you. After all, you’re going to make them famous with your awesome pictures right?
Take LOTS of pictures:
This I can’t stress enough, especially in today, where cameras can take, and hold, thousands of pictures. Add some extra memory cards and battery packs and you can take thousands more. When things are moving in an event you usually only get one chance to get the shot. If there’s some fast moving action going on, let your trigger happy half win and take a sequence of pictures. If you try to time the movement with the shot you’ll generally be a few frames too late. With practice you can get better at this but if you really want a certain shot, just go for it.
Leave your camera on and lens cap off:
Yes I said it, keep your lens cap OFF. If you’re a very very very clumsy person and you don’t have a filter to protect your original glass then keep the lens cap on, BUT keep in mind that it takes time to turn on your camera, reach forward, take off your lens cap, put it in its special place, put your hands back on the camera, focus, change settings and then click the shutter button. To anyone reading, that it’s only a few seconds, but that has, and will, make the difference in getting the shot, or not, countless times.
Don’t pack up your gear until you’ve completely left the area:
So the event is over. You pack your bag with all of your gear and start walking to the exit. All of a sudden you see one of the actors from the performance juggling, on a balance board, with chainsaws lit on fire and revved. You hurry to take out your camera from your bag and set up the shot but by the time you’re ready he’s already finished the stunt. You lost a pretty unique shot that you would’ve probably gotten had you not put your gear away. So, moral of the story, don’t pack up your camera until you’re completely gone from the event.
Some closing questions; if you would be so kind to answer I’ll give you a virtual cookie. =D
Did you find these tips useful?
Is there anything you would add or recommend to an event photographer?
What’s your favorite event shot that you’ve captured?